Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts Info

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The creation sings to us with the visual beauty of God’s
handiwork. But what of man-made art? Much of it is devoid of sacred
beauty and is often rejected by Christians. Christian artists struggle
to find acceptance within the church.
If all of life is to be viewed
as under the lordship of Christ, can we rediscover what God’s plan
is for the arts? Philip Graham Ryken brings into sharp focus a biblical
view of the arts and the artists who make art for God’s sake. This
is a concise yet comprehensive treatment of the major issue of the arts
for all who seek answers.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts:

3

Jan 20, 2008

A favorite quote:

"The problem with some modern and postmodern art is that it seeks to offer truth at the expense of beauty. It tells the truth only about ugliness and alienation, leaving out the beauty of creation and redemption. A good deal of so-called Christian art tends to have the opposite problem. It tries to show beauty without admitting the truth about sin, and to that extent it is false--dishonest about the tragic implications of our depravity...Such a world may be nice to imagine, but A favorite quote:

"The problem with some modern and postmodern art is that it seeks to offer truth at the expense of beauty. It tells the truth only about ugliness and alienation, leaving out the beauty of creation and redemption. A good deal of so-called Christian art tends to have the opposite problem. It tries to show beauty without admitting the truth about sin, and to that extent it is false--dishonest about the tragic implications of our depravity...Such a world may be nice to imagine, but it is not the world God sent his Son to save."

-- from Art for God's Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts by Philip Graham Ryken

...more
3

Dec 23, 2017

While very brief, this book is a terrific treatise on the importance of the arts from a Biblical worldview, God's design for us to use the arts (both as humans created in His image, and as Christians re-created in the new birth), and our need to reclaim the arts from the secular culture.
The aim and accomplishment of the book is really all right there in the title.
I definitely recommend it to all Christians.
5

Jul 09, 2019

A great, short, biblical overview of the arts. I would highly recommend for anyone studying the arts or working in the arts. Also, a great book for students of all interests.
3

Apr 29, 2012

Good, but not quite substantial.

My favorite quote:

"Christian Art is redemptive, and this is its highest purpose. art is always an interpretation of reality, and the Christian should interpret reality in its total aspect, including the hope that has come into the world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rather than giving in to meaningless and despair, Christian artists know that there is a way out."
4

May 30, 2017

Delightful essay with some great reflections on Art, the character of God, and human calling.

Read it for some reflection as I preach through Exodus.
4

Apr 03, 2013

Starts out sounding like a very simplistic concept with obvious points and narrow scripture references but as the chapters move along the focus becomes deeper and more enduring. The author's opinion is voiced in a couple places that feel unnecessary and caught me up for a second. Luckily they did not detract from the overall message of the book. A good, quick read that is prompting me to read about the references he makes to other authors. This is my life's goal: To make art for God's sake.
3

May 25, 2013

Good and solid but rather light. In my opinion Rookmaaker's shot booklet is much better on the subject.
4

Jan 30, 2015

Art for God's Sake is a manifesto for artists of all types to do what they do for the glory of God, basically debunking the addage that art needs no reason for being, i.e, It's just "Art for art's sake." Not only is the book meant to encourage artists in their calling, it is also meant to give non-artists a short introduction to thinking Christianly about the arts.

Some reviewers said it was too simplistic, but for someone like me (with no art background), the simplicity was a huge plus. I Art for God's Sake is a manifesto for artists of all types to do what they do for the glory of God, basically debunking the addage that art needs no reason for being, i.e, It's just "Art for art's sake." Not only is the book meant to encourage artists in their calling, it is also meant to give non-artists a short introduction to thinking Christianly about the arts.

Some reviewers said it was too simplistic, but for someone like me (with no art background), the simplicity was a huge plus. I underlined something on almost every page, but will try to include just a few of the most salient quotes:

"As Christians we should aspire to high aesthetic standards. All too often we settle for something that is functional, but not beautiful. . . . . Sometimes we produce what can be described only as kitsch-tacky artwork of poor quality that appeals to low tastes. The average Christian bookstore is full of the stuff..."

"When we settle for trivial expressions of the truth in worship and art, we ourselves are diminished, as we suffer a loss of transcendence..."

"The problem with some modern and postmodern art is that it seeks to offer truth at the expense of beauty. It tells the truth only about ugliness and alienation, leaving out the beauty of creation and redemption. A good deal of so-called Christian art tends to have the opposite problem. It tries to show beauty without admitting the truth about sin, and to that extent it is false - dishonest about the tragic implications of our depravity. Think of all the bright, sentimental landscapes that portray an ideal world unaffected by the Fall, or the light, cheery melodies that characterize the Christian life as one of undiminished happiness. Such a world may be nice to imagine, but it is not the world God sent his Son to save."
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5

Jul 26, 2017

Short and simple, yet right on the money. Ryken nails this one - a beautiful defense for a Christian reclamation of the arts.
5

Jan 25, 2018

Lovely booklet on art and calling. Introductory and encouraging without being exhaustive.

"Even if we are not artists in our primary vocation, there is an inescapably artistic aspect to our daily experience."

"Art is an imaginative activity, and in the act of creating, we reflect the mind of our Maker."
4

Jun 08, 2017

It always comes back to truth, beauty, and goodness.

Some modern/postmodern art tells the truth at the expense of beauty. Christian kitsch wants to be beautiful, but it's a shallow and simplistic, ignoring the reality of a disordered world. This essay is meant, I think, as a guide for Christian artists who want to create art that "incarnates the hope of redemption."

I appreciate Ryken's warning not to dismiss abstract art: Yet abstraction has God's blessing as much as any other art form. He backs It always comes back to truth, beauty, and goodness.

Some modern/postmodern art tells the truth at the expense of beauty. Christian kitsch wants to be beautiful, but it's a shallow and simplistic, ignoring the reality of a disordered world. This essay is meant, I think, as a guide for Christian artists who want to create art that "incarnates the hope of redemption."

I appreciate Ryken's warning not to dismiss abstract art: Yet abstraction has God's blessing as much as any other art form. He backs this up with a Makoto Fujimura piece, Trinity, on the cover. I've looked at it for two minutes without inspiration. (Should I give it twenty?) To me, it resembles the flag of Belgium. Sigh...

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4

Aug 24, 2017

A brief and helpful introduction to a biblical perspective on art. A great place to start. (At least some of the content can also be found in Ryken's commentary on Exodus)
4

Aug 24, 2018

a short and simple little booklet on art and that is should be done to the glory of God
5

Mar 09, 2019

A super encouraging read that has validated my talents and my hope to be able to use them to bring glory to God. This book has reassured me that it can be done!
5

Dec 06, 2018

A must read for any Christian artist. God cares about your art and has called you to it.
5

Dec 11, 2017

The arts

I recommend this little book to anyone thinking through the arts with regards to sacred and secular and definitely for the “Christian artist”.
3

Mar 14, 2019

Tiny book. I’m surprised it is on the Ambleside Online list. It’s got some good info, but it felt like a skeleton, not a living book. This isn’t one I’ll hand to my kids unless they’re specifically interested in the topic.
4

Nov 16, 2018

Short and Rich

"Thus the true purpose of art is the same as the true purpose of anything: it is not for ourselves or for our own self-expression, but for the service of others and the glory of God. Or to put all of this another way, making art is an expression of our love-love for God and love for our neighbor." Philip Graham Ryken

Amen.
4

Sep 22, 2018

Quick read. Enlightening. Appreciated the admission that many Christians value kitsch over quality, that many churches see art as impractical or threatening, and that being an artist is a calling. This book is a much-needed call to quality and excellence for serious creatives who are Believers. Goes well with Mako Fujimura's Culture Care.
4

Jun 12, 2019

2019 Book Challenge: Christian Living

A nice little, but rich, treatise on art and the Christian. Four biblical principles for a Christian Theology of the Arts are fleshed out:

1.) The artist’s call and gift must come from God.

2.) God loves all kinds of art.

3.) God maintains high standards for goodness, truth, and beauty.

4. Art is for the glory of God.
4

Aug 02, 2018

Like every short book, it could have been shorter. But Dr. Ryken lays out a very compelling, scripture based argument for the importance of ART. Or God is a creator and He created us to create this that reflect Him. He addresses the sacred/secular divide well, and encourages artists to pursue their God-given calling to make good, true, and beautiful art.
4

Nov 26, 2018

Lovely little book on importance of art from a Christian perspective. An introduction to Christian aesthetics, a discussion on God-ordained art from a biblical perspective, and an affirmation to Christian artists that they can be called and that calling as an artist is divinely affirmed and just as important as others' callings. It is very encouraging to young artists, and is a "call to arms," if you will, about the importance of having true Christian artists on the world stage.
4

Apr 02, 2019

Some excellent points that I really enjoyed. He talks about both the falleness of art and the redemptive power of art as well. Art and artists are no different than the rest of creation and the call of an artist is no lesser or greater than the calling of a priest or missionary.

My favorite idea is that it was in the context of Creation that God says man (and woman!) was created in His image. Embrace that creativity!

This is a very short book but packs some powerful thoughts.
3

Feb 19, 2018

This was a good book, but perhaps my view was spoiled because I'd taken RC Sproul's 12-week course Recovering the Beauty of the Arts, which was extremely similar in tone and philosophy. However, being 12 weeks and a full-on course, the course was was more deep soI didn't learn anything new. The book was a good overview of how we should approach art as a Christian- not as an extra but as a devotion to God, who IS Beauty.

As One Amazon reviewer said,

Art for God's Sake is a very digestible little This was a good book, but perhaps my view was spoiled because I'd taken RC Sproul's 12-week course Recovering the Beauty of the Arts, which was extremely similar in tone and philosophy. However, being 12 weeks and a full-on course, the course was was more deep soI didn't learn anything new. The book was a good overview of how we should approach art as a Christian- not as an extra but as a devotion to God, who IS Beauty.

As One Amazon reviewer said,

Art for God's Sake is a very digestible little book that lays a foundation for further learning. The back of the book contains two pages of further reading for a more complete study on a Biblical understanding of Art

If you consider this a starter book, or a foundation for further study, it is well worth the money and the time. Recommended ...more
2

May 21, 2019

I care about the premise of this book. And I don't disagree with anything here, per se--but it's hard to disagree with something that says so little. The takes are all lukewarm at best, and nothing particularly fresh is presented either theologically or in terms of creative theory. In the group of people taking up critical writing in an area where they have no skin in the game--that is, people who write about creative work without actually doing any themselves--there are two kinds: Helen I care about the premise of this book. And I don't disagree with anything here, per se--but it's hard to disagree with something that says so little. The takes are all lukewarm at best, and nothing particularly fresh is presented either theologically or in terms of creative theory. In the group of people taking up critical writing in an area where they have no skin in the game--that is, people who write about creative work without actually doing any themselves--there are two kinds: Helen Vendlers, who can somehow pull it off at the annoyance of the rest of us, and then everyone else. This book goes in the second category. Sorry to B.

One more thing: I say I care about the premise, and I do. But I also disagree with part of it--that is the idea that the arts need to be, as the subtitle says, "recovered." I'm not sure why evangelical christianity is so insistent on seeing the state of the arts as somehow more polluted or devoid of christian influence than other areas. Maybe because the nature of art is such that *good* art will rarely be explicitly apologetic? Maybe because we just aren't paying attention? If you spend any time immersed in the world of creative work, it should be obvious that there is plenty of contemporary work of serious relevance to issues of faith and spirituality. Unsure that we really need these sort of manifestos in defense of being christian artists. ...more

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